Sen. Ronald dela Rosa is available to run to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte, their PDP-Laban party said Monday, but "that's not saying that he's the best."
Dela Rosa had likened his acceptance of the PDP-Laban nomination to being a "good soldier" and that he was open to be substituted by the president's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. He also said he was "serious" about running.
"He [Dela Rosa] is the one who is available. We're not saying he's the best, but of course originally we're pushing for Sen. Bong Go," PDP-Laban Secretary General Melvin Matibag told ANC.
He also defended Dela Rosa's track record as the Philippine National Police chief and as senator for three years. Both Dela Rosa and Go are first-term senators and are known to be loyal to Duterte.
"If you look at history, 'di naman siguro natin puwede sukatin 'yung qualification at kakayahan ng isang tao based on how long he sits in a position as a politician," said Matibag.
Matibag said the party's first choice was to push for a Go-Duterte tandem. Go declined to run for president while Duterte dropped his plan to run for vice president to give way to his retirement from politics.
While Dela Rosa was an "in case" candidate, he was not fielded to be a placeholder for Duterte-Carpio, who has so far resisted calls to run for president, Matibag said. Duterte-Carpio has her own Hugpong ng Pagbabago and is not a member of PDP-Laban.
"Itaga mo na sa bato na si Sen. Bato na ang kandidato nating presidente ng PDP-Laban. I'm not saying ngayon sabi ko itaga mo na sa bato, from today hanggang Nov. 15 huwag mo muna ibaon ang taga sa bato," he said, citing the deadline for candidate substitution.
“We are prepared to have a candidate na Bato-Go. May preparations na kami, naghahanda rin kami so we are ready to push for a Bato-Go tandem in 2022,” Matibag said.